The Safari was able to get an unexpected sneaky visit to Marton Mere yesterday morning.There were a few birds about the first notable one being a Cetti's Warbler in one of the ponds at the wetland on the way in. That was followed by a Sparrowhawk circling over the north western corner of the reserve. A few Skylarks were going over calling but unseen the continued on and off all morning, no idea how many were involved all together.
We decided to go round anti-clockwise taking us to the Feeding Station first where it was quiet with only two Pheasants and two Chaffinches. A volunteer was mowing the path edges behind us and the noise was upsetting Monty so we high tailed it out of there, wasn't owt happening anyway. We'd just got out through the caravan site gate when four Redpolls (MMLNR #82) went over. They'd come from over the mere so hadn't been parked up in the Alders behind the Feeding Station.
Moving further down the bank we didn't see much on interest until we came upon a smashed up mushroom.
Why do folk do that - fear of the unknown we guess going back to the 'all mushrooms are edible - some only once'. But if no-one's going to eat it why smash it up with a stick? Some folk are absolute numpties, so disassociated with wildlife and nature and sadly that's the norm now.
No more than a couple of yards away were two Shaggy Inkcaps which must have popped up after Mr/s Destruction had gone otherwise they'd no doubt be smashed up too despite being edible - and good...although we weren't going to take a bite out of these as they were very much in a dog zone!Fox do-do and was just about to drop his shoulder for a good old roll in in it...Nooooooooo - only an idiot would have a dog!!! Fortunately we managed to drag him away from it before it was smeared all over his back - why do they do that - YUKKKKK
From the fence we could see there wasn't muxh by way of waterfowl or gulls in front of the Fylde Bird Club Hide so we opted to keep moving instead of going in, good move cos if we had have gone in we'd have missed the two Swallows scudding across the grassed area going westwards at a rate of knots.
With Redpolls and Swallows of interest spotted already we thought it best to call in at the visitor centre and report them officially. On the way up there we saw a cluster of Common Inkcaps - unsmashed and yet these can give you a seriously dicky tummy if eaten and you have alcohol in your system...best avoided unless your a total tee-totaller.
After a quick chat at the VC we continued our circuit. At the gate by the bridge over the outflow stream we found an interesting pellet sat on top of the rubbish bin. It's about the size of our thumbnail and almost spherical. We're not sure what it might have been produced by, Little Owl, Blackbird (bit big for one of those?) something else??? The snail is intriguing, we're no good at snail ID is it a terrestrial species or is it from the adjacent stream?
Some of the black bits look very much like beetle elytra (wing cases) which would point towards Little Owl, or maybe Kestrel perhaps - can anyone shed any further light on the ID? So far on Twitter we've had no response and on Facebook a 'Big Gun' is gunning for Little Owl. Thoughts anyone...over to you.
Our walk around most of the rest of the reserve was pretty uneventful apart from a couple of small flocks of Pink Footed Geese dropping in to the fields to the east but landing out of sight behind a rise in the ground and a handful more Cetti's Warblers scattered around the site. When we reached the path to the Viewing Platform we spied this rather impressive fungus at the side of the path, must be 18 inches end to end - a real beast! No idea what it is though.
At the Viewing Platform we hoped for a Bittern but it wasn't to be, 'just' a small flock of Long Tailed Tits working their way through the top of the recently pruned Willow tree to the left of the bench - great stuff as there is now a sweeping visita right around the northwest corner of the reedbed - just right for spotting any Bitterns popping up out of there and heading towards you.
Just as we were leaving a huge pall of thick black smoke came up from behind the barn just beyond the reserve's eastern boundary - doesn't look good but who ya gonna call? Fire brigade or the Environment Agency? Probably shoulda called the latter.
Framers eh? Sometimes we think they dshouldn't be allowed in the countryside - and we're from farming stock!
The walk back to the car gave us the same number of Goldcrests as we had all last weekend at Spurn - one, in the allotment hedge at the wetlands.
This morning dawned cold and clear, the sun hasn't risen now when we're out on Monty's early morning walk and today there was a crisp frost on the grass and car windscreens. As ever we look for the Peregrine on its usual (now unusual) perch but yet again no sign of it. But high up in the cold steel grey ether we heard another Brambling, none for 14 1/2 years then two in a couple of days! P1 #51)
Coming back on to the main road and looking down the hill we could see a huge swirl of Jackdaws, about 100 of them which we guessed must have roosted somewhere nearby.
Back at Base Camp we were pleased to find about half a dozen Blackbirds in the garden feasting on next door's Rowan berries and our Pyracantha bush.
Blackbirds we expect, maybe not as many as six but they are daily visitors but Starlings are another kettle of fish altogether, very rarely do they come in to the garden so to see three drop in begs the question are they local birds or migrants from afar that have possibly traveled on the coat tails of the Blackbirds...you decide.
A flock of about 85 Jackdaws went over going south west, almost definitely not the 100 we'd seen earlier.
And with the sun shining we decided on taking Monty for another spin round Marton Mere. The walk started as yesterday with a/the Cetti's Warbler at the wetlands. We'd not gone far when we heard the unmistakable woosh woosh sound of Mute Swans' wings carving up the air. Two of them came low overhead making for Stanley Park lake.
So close we could only fit one of them in the frame.
We opted to give Monty a bit more of a run before putting him on his lead so went round the outside of the reserve along the bridlepath, here a patch of sunshine had warmed the place up enough for a Common Darter to fly past and alight on the fence to do a bit of basking and catch a few rays.
We carried on on our way and into the reserve (with Monty now on his lead) and set off along the embankment where we met TS. We'd gone that way on the off chance we might see the Bittern fly over the reedbed and/or hear the pings of a fresh-in Bearded Tit, there's been a bit of an influx along the north west coast line and our reed bed is as good as anyone elses!
While we were chatting we both saw a large black bird we both at first glance thought might be a Raven but when it banked it turned into our first Marsh Harrier here since before 2010. Unfortunately it stayed down the far end before dropping in to the reedbed somewhere near the scrape putting about 60 Teal to flight. We hoped that when it got up again it would come our way and we'd get some spectacular views of it wafting over the reedbed in front of us - no such luck it went down the far end again and then set off high to the north east and away.
We also noted a steady passage of Skylarks and a few Chaffinches from our spot on the embankment. Behind us were more Pink Footed Geese than we'd had yesterday and more still were going over further east.
TS went on his way and we stopped a few more minutes to watch a Sparrowhawk speed by and listen to Water Rails squalling and Cetti's Warblers exploding but not a peep out of any Bearded Tits that might have been but probably weren't lurking in the reeds.
We followed on in TS's footsteps passing a family who think it's acceptable to come in to a nature reserve and take away the birds and animals winter food supply - armed with a long pole to reach the Apples no-one else could reach - how many hundredweight of invaluable winter food is lost to these numpties each autumn - all for the sake of saving a few pence at the supermarket. We're only taking two or three they told us, each with one of those large 'indestructible' carrier bags in their hands.
Fortunately the morning picked up soon after that when we heard the soft 'peeuu' call of a Bullfinch and then watched a female lift out of the scrub fly a short distance and then drop back in again. That's the first sighting since early April.
Our offer of a king sized Mars Bar for the person who gets a decent pic of one still stands, got to be better than our two paltry efforts so far to get that prize though.
Then we had 'bad news' from MMcG we'd just missed a Jay and a Bittern he told us, but we did get on to the two Whooper Swans that were cruising round the far end of the mere, our first actually on the water for several years.
We hung around chatting to the Ranger and volunteers for a while hoping the Bittern might show itself again - it didn't and they disappeared in to the reedbed to remove a substantial Willow growing on a bit of an island so went back towards the Feeding Station. We'd only gone a few steps when BOOM a flock of nine Coal Tits flew over us and went across to the trees in the caravan site - awesome as those over the other side of the pond say. No other species were in the flock and nine is at least six more than we've ever seen on site before!
Best of the rest were the shed loads of Jackdaws, must seen 1000 all morning up to now and a Great Spotted Woodpecker going east over the wetlands.
It was quieter back at Base Camp after lunch but thee were still a few Jackdaws on the move. After the school traffic had died down we took Monty out to the park, Patch 1, but without a camera - shoulda took one as as soon as we got there we spotted a Jay coming in from the east, very very seldom do we see them round here.
Sparrrowhawk and a Small White butterfly were best of the rest until we got home and had a Red Admiral perched up on one of our down pipes at Base Camp.
Where to next? An all day safari over to the Southside with CR tomorrow
In the meantime let us know who's reappeared in your outback